Monday rolls round again. Hope you’re all having a good start to the week. Continuing with our A to Z Challenge, today is C and okay we’re going to have a teeny little cheat! While C is for Cherokee I’m going to look at Native American tribes in general. The wolf is a very important symbol in their culture, with many tribes claiming the wolf as their spirit animal. There are numerous myths and stories in their folkore about wolves, with them ranging from being seen as former Gods to evil man-eating villains. I wanted to share just a few of my favourites. I find Native American myths interesting as they are often what we would consider harsh, there is rarely a ‘happy ending’ but they provide a fascinating insight into a developed culture and a different way of seeing the world.
Wolf Tricks the Trickster
This is a legend that is shared by several tribes, most notably the Shoshoni. The Shoshoni people saw the Wolf as a creator God and they respected him greatly. Long ago, Wolf, and many other animals, walked and talked like man.
Coyote could talk, too, but the Shoshoni people kept far away from him because he was a Trickster, somebody who is always up to no good and out to double-cross you.
Coyote resented Wolf because he was respected by the Shoshoni. Being a devious Trickster, Coyote decided it was time to teach Wolf a lesson. He would make the Shoshoni people dislike Wolf, and he had the perfect plan. Or so he thought.
One day, Wolf and Coyote were discussing the people of the land. Wolf claimed that if somebody were to die, he could bring them back to life by shooting an arrow under them. Coyote had heard this boast before and decided to put his plan into action.
Wearing his most innocent smile he told Wolf that if he brought everyone back to life, there would soon be no room left on Earth. Once people die, said Coyote, they should remain dead.
If Wolf takes my advice, thought Coyote, then the Shoshoni people would hate Wolf, once and for all.
Wolf was getting tired of Coyote constantly questioning his wisdom and knew he was up to no good, but he didn’t say anything. He just nodded wisely and decided it was time to teach Coyote a lesson.
A few days after their conversation, Coyote came running to Wolf. Coyote’s fur was ruffled and his eyes were wide with panic.
Wolf already knew what was wrong: Coyote’s son had been bitten by Rattlesnake and no animal can survive the snake’s powerful venom.
Coyote pleaded with Wolf to bring his son back to life by shooting an arrow under him, as he claimed he could do.
Wolf reminded Coyote of his own remark that people should remain dead. He was no longer going to bring people back to life, as Coyote had suggested.
The Shoshoni people say that was the day Death came to the land and that, as a punishment for his mischievous ways, Coyote’s son was the first to die.
No one else was ever raised from the dead by Wolf again, and the people came to know sadness when someone dies. Despite Coyote’s efforts, however, the Shoshoni didn’t hate Wolf. Instead, they admired his strength, wisdom and power, and they still do today.
The Wolf and the Dog
This one is a Cherokee legend.
In the beginning, the people say, the Dog was put on the mountain and the Wolf beside the fire. When the winter came the Dog could not stand the cold, so he came down to the settlement and drove the Wolf from the fire.
The Wolf ran to the mountains, where it suited him so well that he prospered and increased, until after a while he ventured down again and killed some animals in the settlements.
The people got together and followed and killed him, but his brothers came from the mountains and took such revenge that ever since the people have been afraid to hurt a wolf.
Wolf and the Sea
Once a man found two wolf pups on the beach, he took them to his home and raised them.
When the pups had grown, they would swim out in to the ocean, kill a whale, and bring it to shore for the man to eat.
Each day they did this, soon there was too much meat to eat and it began to spoil.
When the Great Above Person saw this waste he made a fog and the wolves could not find whales to kill nor find they way back to shore.
They had to remain at sea, those wolves became sea wolves, or as we call them Orca.
I will finish with one that again is a Cherokee legend, and one I’m sure you’ll have heard before, but I like it and as with most fables or myths we can take a lesson from it 🙂
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.
I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.
Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”
Take care x